Santander Bank Polska in Poland will service SMEs through virtual RMs

Santander Bank Polska

Santander Bank Polska has launched a pilot project that will provide services to SME customers through virtual relationship managers (virtual RMs).

The project will enable entrepreneurs to quickly and conveniently contact a virtual RM by telephone or through a computer, laptop or tablet from anywhere in Poland and around the world. Virtual RMs can also offer access to more products that were previously unavailable through remote channels.

— “The owners of small and medium-sized enterprises appreciate having quick access to banking services, as well as our individual approach to their needs. Our goal is to provide them with the best experience in both these areas, which is why we have been systematically developing and improving how they can contact us, as well as offering multichannel support. We are focused on making full use of the potential of remote channels and building long-lasting relationships with customers. We aim to ensure that entrepreneurs can always contact the same relationship manager, who will be informed about matters related to their business. As a result, we will not only shorten the time needed for customer service, we will also make corporate banking go even further,” says Michał Hackiewicz, Head of SME Digital at Santander Bank Polska.

Through Bank’s virtual RM service, every SME customer will be assigned to a specific RM, who will be responsible for providing comprehensive customer service through remote channels.

Thanks to virtual RMs, SME customers will also be able to benefit from expanded product offer available through remote channels. Among other things, RMs can help customers get a loan, open a new account, change their transaction limits in the online banking system, apply for a POS terminal or leasing, obtain any necessary certificates, and answer questions about the use of the transaction system, mobile app or payment cards. For customers who value direct contact with bank employees, virtual RMs can arrange a meeting at a Santander Bank Polska branch at a time that is convenient for the customer.

Customers can contact a virtual RM quickly and easily using tools offering direct video or chat functions. In addition, Bank’s systems will automatically connect the customer with their dedicated RM once their identity is verified. Customers can also contact their virtual RM by e-mail.

Extra Questions from SME Banking Club

What is the primary target of the pilot?

Michal Hackiewicz, Head of SME Digital at Santander Bank Polska
Michal Hackiewicz, Head of SME Digital at Santander Bank Polska

The primary goal of the pilot is to match the new customer service model to their expectations. We know from research and initial observations that over 75% of the selected group of customers would be happy to use remote services.

The second important indicator is NPS. We expect that within six months, the percentage of customers who will recommend the bank and open business accounts with us will grow significantly. The predicted change in customer behavior is also essential, and will translate into increased activity in remote channels.

How long will the pilot last? Is there any concrete end date?

The pilot is divided into two parts — the first will last till the end of July, and the second until the end of November 2018. The press release states that each SME customer will be assigned to a specific RM. So we have two questions here:

  • How many customers are assigned to each Virtual RM? And how exactly is the assignment done? At the moment a customer contacts a Virtual RM or beforehand?

Each Virtual Manager will have 3-times more customers in their portfolio than RM on the branch. RMs support selected regions in Poland corresponding to the current branch division, which means that we are based on regionalization. It’s crucial for RMs to know their customers, their needs. Regionalization will facilitate this task because the SME market is diversifi ed and we see different behaviors in different regions. We are also considering diff erentiation by sector in the future.

  • How is it possible that one specific Virtual RM can serve a customer through remote channels that are available almost 24 hours each day? Or are Virtual RMs only available during working hours?

Virtual RMs work similar hours as RMs at the branch. In the pilot, we test the service solution during working hours from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. However, we have already seen that some customers prefer to contact the Bank at different times. So, we will be flexible in meeting customer needs.

Do you expect the profitability per SME customer to increase as the result of the virtual RM launch? What will the main drivers be in that respect?

An increase in service satisfaction always translates into an increase in profitability from the services and products offered. First and foremost, the most important thing is to build relationships with customers and gain their trust in the new RMs. Profitability will come after some time. For me, the primary indicator will be the number of incoming calls to Virtual RMs in available channels. This will mean that the customer, having the need, expects the RM to solve the problem from start to finish without unnecessary delay or sending the customer elsewhere. Many of these customers have pre-approved credit limits which, as everyone knows, are among the most profitable banking products.